Want a Raise? You Can Get it in these Cities


NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Northern California and the Pacific Northwest are among the most popular moving destinations, according to a new study, and money is doing a lot of talking to explain why.

United Van Lines 2013 Post-Peak Season Moving Trends concluded that San Jose, Portland, San Francisco and Seattle are the cities with the largest influx of movers into the metropolitan region compared to the number of people departing.

"The continued growth in the tech sector is drawing people to Northern California but the high cost of living in Silicon Valley is causing tech companies and workers to migrate north to Seattle," said Michael A. Stoll, economist, professor and chair of the Department of Public Policy at the University of California in Los Angeles. "Portland is also experiencing unprecedented growth attracting a range of Millennials and retirees relocating for amenities such as public transit, green space, local arts and a vibrant urban culture."

Salaries within other counties in the San Francisco area all grew less than 10%. However, in San Mateo, the average weekly wage grew more than 100%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. That's because Facebook moved its headquarters to Menlo Park in San Mateo County.

"When a big company moves to a new city, there's always some employees that refuse to make the move to the new location, which forces the firm to make local hires," said Professor Curt Grimm, economics professor at the University of Maryland's Smith School of Business.

Vero Beach, Fla. scored second in the Bureau of Labor Statistics ranking of cities that have the highest pay with an 11.1% one-year wage growth and average weekly salary of $839, because the leisure and hospitality industry has benefitted from Florida's minimum wage increase from $7.31 to $7.67.

"Vero Beach is an example of an economy that's heavily dependent on tourism so many more of the average number of people who work at these wage positions and receive an increase impacts the overall salary statistics in the area," Grimm told MainStreet.

In third place is Midland, Texas, where jobs in mining, logging and construction rose 16.1% and jobs in transportation and utilities rose 9.8%.

Dalton, Ga. is another city with higher salary percentages. Its one-year wage growth was 8.2% and average weekly pay $769 due to a 6% sector growth in government and a 5.1% growth in professional and business services.

"Government jobs have a higher proportion of professional posts," said Grimm. "An analyst is a common entry-level government position. There tends to be more economic activity where there's higher skilled jobs, which increases salary averages."

For those thinking about a career change, consider the oil industry, where wages increased by 6.1% a year in Midland and Odessa, Texas and in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

"The kind of workers the oil industry hires are also more skilled and people with technical skills, like engineers and drilling experts, command higher wages," Grimm said.

Aside from tech jobs, there's another reason Americans are moving to the West Coast.

In its annual salary survey, Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) disclosed that the West Coast and Mid-Atlantic regions report salary increases of 14% and 4% respectively in the accounting and finance arenas.

--Written by Juliette Fairley for MainStreet

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